I’m a looper

This morning I was finally able to join some friends on a ride around one of Tucson’s great bike trails. Today my phone tells me that I rode twenty-seven miles. It was fun and challenging. Not only am I not used to these kinds of long rides, but there were some pretty fast movers in the group (we were seven people, maybe?) and I was the only one with fat mountain-bike tires and a heavy bike (everyone else had a light-weight road bike). The first half of the ride was hard but I was able to keep up. However, once we got half-way I couldn’t do it any longer so I broke off and had a casual ride home, keeping my pace just at the edge of where a leg cramp would start.

Photo credits to Jonathan Martin
Photo credits to Jonathan Martin

At one point we had to stop and wait for someone to cross the road because apparently rattle snakes don’t know to stay out of the bike lanes.

It was a little discouraging not being able to keep up with the others, but it was also not that bad because I didn’t have high expectations. Since I was free for the return trip, I stopped by the Trader Joe’s that I’ve been wanting to visit for a while.

The hardest part of the day was the last four and a half miles home after Trader Joe’s. By that time I had cooled down and was ready to just be home – like finally returning from vacation but having a long travel time. It felt good and exhausting and took just about three hours including my shop-stop. These guys, the “loopers,” are doing this every weekend and I hope to go again.

Why Drive?

In the United States, outside of big cities, it’s very difficult to live and work without a car. Germany is one of the many places around the world, however, where that is not true.

There are bicycle lanes almost everywhere and they are clearly distinguished from the road lanes and even from the pedestrian lanes on the sidewalk where they are usually found. Drivers don’t seem to get mad at cyclists for using the roads and the bike lanes offer security for everyone.

“You stay in your lane, I’ll stay in mine” is a fairly good way of thinking of things here. People scold you if you’re in the wrong one.

In fact, it’s really common to see the bike paths in and around the city just about as busy as the roads, which are typically only a single lane in each direction – even busy roads.

We have both been initiated into this system now by experiencing a tire having a full-out blow-out. Last Sunday, as we were heading out to look for Mandi’s iPod, she ran over a screw which completely punctured her tire and all the air shot out. Yesterday on my way back from a hardware store, I was riding on a path in the woods and unexpectedly there was a loud pop and some of the steel wire from my tire sprang out: it was totally dead.

These weren’t fun experiences and they came at bad times, but at least it’s far cheaper and easier to deal with than a car. Right now I’m on my way to a second third repair shop because the guys at the first two one didn’t have the right size tire to replace mine – “It’s a very rare size. You have to special-order these.” Joy.

Four lovely grade-separated lanes: light-rail, automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians.